Thoughts on fairness and morality.

I recently submitted this essay as part of my Uni coursework, so I thought I’d share it 🙂


In this paper, my main argument that I will justify will be that Utilitarian ethics leads to more fairness than Deontology will. I will also assess Kant’s ‘Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals’ and Rawls’s teachings to support my conclusion. I will begin by briefly explaining the philosophy of utilitarianism for the sake of clarity. I will then offer a justification as to why utilitarianism leads to fairness and will then progress by revising my thesis by taking some objections of it and other philosophies into consideration. This essay will focus mainly on explaining why deontology and Rawls’s theory fail as a substitute for utilitarianism.

One assumption I will be making in this essay is that morality and fairness are the same thing. Fairness is doing what you consider moral, however relative that may be. My definition of morality will be explored in this essay. So in summary: I use fairness to be a part of the fundamental criterion for morality, for the same reasons as Fredrik Bendz does in this article here.

My view is that an action is deemed moral if it is for the greater good of the greatest number of people. This is a core principle of utilitarianism. My belief is that following the utilitarian doctrine will lead to a fairer society. An example would be that, in the case of having to give away one hundred pounds and either choosing between splitting the money between five people or just giving to one. Utilitarianism dictates splitting the money because it leads to more happiness from the greater number of people. Another more extreme case would be where a psychopathic axe murderer knocked on your door with the intention of murdering the innocent child in your care. In this case, you are morally obligated to protect that child because doing otherwise would lead to greater pain and suffering. I find these examples are convincing enough to support the conclusion that utilitarianism is a fair system, particularly considering the deontological[1] response to the problems. In response to the first problem, it is difficult to apply deontological philosophy to it. In recognition of the second example, deontologists would argue that you are morally obligated to reveal the location of the innocent child in your care to the psychopathic axe murderer, and thus to put her in harm’s way.

It also seems to be a rather counter intuitive and unfair action. You could argue that if it seems unfair, then it probably is. I can justify this because the action itself does not lead the greater good of anything or anyone, and an action for the benefit of someone is what is widely considered to be fair. In this case, the deontological response of surrendering to the axe murderer does not fit the criteria of leading to the greater good of anything, and is, therefore, unfair.

Briefly, I will convey the argument that makes deontologists reach this conclusion before explaining how utilitarianism earns the title of fairness. How Deontologists like Kant define morality and fairness is doing your duty for the sake of duty. This means that you should abide by the Laws if they are universally binding[2]. A more analytical reading of this philosophy highlights many of its flaws. One fault is that it cannot be a legitimate system because of Hegel’s non-contradiction theory[3], meaning that statements cannot be simultaneously true and false at one given moment. Hegel bases this on Kant’s argument that it is contradictory to universalise acts that are considered ‘perfect duties’[4]. Acts including murder and lying should be considered wrong because they cannot be universalised without it being a contradiction. For example, if I were to kill someone else, then it would be justifiable (by this logic) for someone to kill me, and this progresses until there is no one left to kill, meaning everyone would be dead. Whilst I agree with the premise that murder and lying should be considered immoral and unfair, I am persuaded by Hegel’s point that there is nothing contradictory about absence. In this case where everyone might be dead if murder were universalised, then the act of murder would no longer exist. To summarise my point, Kant’s point that murder and lying is wrong is justifiable, but his means of achieving that conclusion is faulty.

Utilitarianism fits the concept that what is done for the greater good of the majority and for the benefit of the people is fair. I am in favour of utilitarianism because it avoids the problems deontology raises.

Another Kantian perspective on ethics is Rawls’s ‘Veil of Ignorance’ theory. I will outline this argument in detail and then I will give reasons as to why this theory is not as strong as a utilitarian one. What the ‘Veil of Ignorance’ essentially does is strip people of identity and then allowing them to hypothetically form their ideal version of society. This runs on the presumption that people will create a just society that is fair for all. There is a lot of emphasis on the use of justice here because Rawls’s theory relies on the idea that ethics should be based on justice, which is Kantian in its essence.

The first issue I take with it is that you cannot practically apply this to the real world. What I mean by this is that it is impossible to achieve the complete ignorance, as Rawls describes, to foster the best environment to create a just society. There is no possible method of enforcing a system where everyone is completely ignorant of identity. One counterargument to this is the idea that the situation could be entirely hypothetical, but this also fails how to rule out implicit bias. It is impossible to determine whether a person truly is ignorant in this situation.

But even if could, how do you know that people would not take risks? One example would be a case where three-quarters of the population could be “the masters” and the rest had to be “the slaves”, and had no freedom whatsoever. It is undeniable that at least a small percentage of people would take that risk based on the likelihood that they’ll be one of the lucky 75%. My point here is that Rawls fails to consider human nature, and therefore this leaves a flaw in his theory. Based on these two problems, I reject Rawls’s theory as a substitute for utilitarianism as a means of achieving fairness and equality.

Following a review of the counter-arguments of Kant and Rawls, as well as measuring Utilitarianism, I can conclude that a fair and moral act should always be done for the greater good of the larger number of people. I, therefore, add that Utilitarianism does not lead to unfairness.



[1] Deontologists tend to agree that obedience to objective law is what should be regarded as moral.

[2] What I mean by this is that they work in favour of humanity.

[3] Boer K. ‘Hegel’s Account Of Contradiction In The Science Of Logic Reconsidered’. 1st ed. Gronigen; 2017:347. Available at: Accessed May 8, 2017.

[4] This is defined as any act that is blameworthy if they are not met. Honesty may be considered as an example. This is opposed to ‘perfect duties’, where this encourages you to cultivate a particular talent or skill you have, such as painting.

Further reading on the subject:

  • Boer K. ‘Hegel’s Account Of Contradiction In The Science Of Logic Reconsidered’. 1st ed. Gronigen; 2017: 347.
  • Kant I, Paton H. ‘Groundwork Of The Metaphysic Of Morals’. 1st ed. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Thought; 2009.
  • Pyle A. Utilitarianism. London: Routledge/Thoemmes Press; 1998.

On The Ground with The Good Earth


My name is Shannon and I am currently an ‘on the ground promoter’ working on Motherlode’s The Good Earth. That means that I am helping to spread the word to as many people as possible about this show which tours Wales in September.

Motherlode’s tagline is Tireless New Theatre, Made in Wales.  I saw the last run of rehearsals for ‘The Good Earth’ at Park & Dare Theatre in Treorchy last week. I feel extremely lucky to be working to engage people in the Cardiff area and to have got the chance to watch the performance just before it went on tour to New York. I’m delighted to help spread the word about this production; the themes that it touches on evokes awareness on what has affected Wales as a country in the past and its reaction to moments of hardship. It is an important message of strength and unity, especially during a time when we seem to be so divided.

The Good Earth’ echoes concerns over the threat to the Welsh identity and community with its close relation to the Aberfan and Tryweryn tragedies. The play made me feel nostalgic about situations I’ve never personally experienced, and empathetic for the characters’ cause to maintain the integrity of their way of life. It reminded me of Wales’s role in modern Britain, and how drastically that has developed over the years. It was the backlash against apathetic and unjust authorities that helped to fuel the surge of Welsh nationalism that we see today.

The singing, though not appearing to be its fundamental feature, significantly intensified the mood of the play. It had a meditative effect. Kudos to the actors for managing to convey the emotions of deeply relevant issues in many Welsh communities. I am so excited to see the show alongside a Welsh audience when it returns from NYC.

Further information on The Good Earth 2016

The Interactionist labelling theory/Y damcaniaeth labelu Rhyngweithiol (En/Cy)

English version/fersiwn Saesneg:

The labelling theory belongs to the Interactionists. They believe that nobody is naturally deviant (an idea that conflicts with the New Right), but become deviant when labelled as such, and whatever label this may be has a profound influence on the individual’s actions. Interactionists focus on the individual’s response to their label(s); this is what distinguishes them from other social theorists, such as the Functionalists, who tend to focus their attention on what leads the individual to deviance in the first place.

Lemert developed the labelling theory. The argued that deviance could be split into two separate groups – primary and secondary. The former is referenced to deviance which does not gain the attention of the public, and therefore does not receive a label. The latter, on the other hand, means actions which does receive a label from society, similarly, Howard Becker puts forth the notion that the term deviance does not actually exist, “Deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label”, and, “an act only becomes deviant when people define it as such”. He therefore implies that an action has to be labelled as deviant for it to actually become one, because the term itself is socially constructed.

As it is socially constructed, the environment surrounding the situation, including where, when and for which reasons it has occurred, decide if the action is deviant. Often times, the proses of stigmatisation will occur if something is considered deviant, and the action itself will be thereby associated with a bad label. Sometimes the label works like the ‘master status’, which takes over every other label. Examples of this include thieves, prostitutes and homosexuals (this is considered deviant in many cultures).  All the negative connotations of that label are usually thrusted onto the individual. The Interactionist Jock Young supports Becker’s work through his research into Hippy culture. Smoking weed was not considered to be a priority for these groups, until the negative attention from the public and the police.

According to Cooley and his “looking glass self” theory, people tend to see themselves how other people perceive and react to them. The label works as a self-fulfilling prophecy to control people; often, they will start to act to live up to the label, and thus starting a ‘deviant career’, meaning that certain individuals will start to revolve their lives around deviance and/or crime. The activity, therefore, will turn into a social role.

The Sociologist Stan Cohen pointed out in his ‘moral panic’ thesis on the subject of the labelling theory, that subcultures are the most exposed to this process. To start, Cohen suggested that the public would take notice of an activity taking place. An example would be, according to his study, the Mods and Rockers of 1960’s England. As a result of this, agencies of formal and informal control would react to it. The media often amplifies deviance and exaggerates a particular event to make the story more newsworthy, and thus selling more newspapers and generating more profit, although this has negative effects on society. Members of society would start to be wary of specific symbols and icons, and view them as troublemakers. Then, they would overstate the situation by expecting more trouble, and thereby redefining the issue by creating moral panic as a reaction to deviance. Additionally, this may necessitate police officers to target specific groups, meaning that the labelling theory would rotate once again.

To reiterate, the labelling theory plays a significant role within society if we take into account its effect on individuals. Labels may have a positive and negative effect on individuals, and is completely dependent on the situation, or even if the action is labelled by society in the first place.

Welsh version/fersiwn Cymraeg:

Mae’r theori labelu yn perthyn i’r Rhyngweithwyr. Credon nhw fod neb yn wyrdroëdig yn naturiol, ond yn wydredig o dan label, a’r label sy’n ddylanwad mawr ar ymddygiad unigolyn (mae hyn yn gwrthddweud credoau’r Dde Newydd). Mae’r Rhyngweithwyr yn ffocysu ar ymateb yr unigolyn i’r label, ac i’r gwrthwyneb, lle mae’r Swyddogaethwyr yn ffocysu ar beth sy’n arwain at yr unigolyn i fod yn wydredig yn y lle cyntaf.

Datblygwyd y syniad o label gan Lemert. Mae gwyredd yn rhannu i ddau grŵp gwahanol, sef gwyredd cynradd ac eilradd. Mae gwyredd cynradd yn cyfeirio at wyredd nad sy’n derbyn sylw’r cyhoedd ac felly nid oes ganddo label. Mae gwyredd eilradd, ar y llaw arall, yn golygu gweithred sy’n derbyn label gan y gymdeithas. Yn debyg, soniodd Howard Becker nad yw’r term gwyredd yn bodoli, “Deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label”, ac, “an act only becomes deviant when people define it as such”. Awgrymir felly, rhaid i weithred cael ei enwi’n gwyredd er mwyn iddo fod yn wyredd, gan fod y term ei hun yn enghraifft o luniad cymdeithasol.

Gan ei fod yn lluniad cymdeithasol, mae’r amgylchiadau o gwmpas y sefyllfa, megis ble, pryd, ac am ba resymau, yn penderfynu os yw gweithred yn gwyredig. Yn aml bydd y proses o stigmateiddio yn digwydd os caiff rhywbeth ei labelu’n gwyredig, a chysylltwyd y weithred â label gwael. Weithiau bydd y label yn gweithio fel “Statws Meistr” ac yn cymryd dros bob label arall, megis lleidr, person hoyw, person ag iselder a llofruddwr. Cysylltwyd yr holl dermau negyddol sy’n perthyn i’r label i’r unigolyn. Mae’r Rhyngweithwyr Jock Young yn atgyfnerthu gwaith Becker trwy eu astudiaeth o ‘Hippies’ pwy oedd yn ysmygu cyffuriau. Nid oedd y gweithgaredd hyn yn arwyddocâd iddynt nes i’r cyfryngau a’r heddlu targedu nhw.

Yn ôl Cooley, yn ei ddamcaniaeth “through the looking-glass self”, mae pobl yn gweld eu hunain yn y ffordd mae pobl eraill yn ymateb iddynt. Mae’r label yn gweithio fel proffwydoliaeth hunan gyflawni i reoli’r unigolyn – byddent yn ddechrau ymddwyn fel y label, fel arfer, a dechrau gyrfa gwyredig, sy’n golygu bydd pobl yn ddechrau byw eu bywydau yn uniongyrchol i droseddu. Bydd y gweithgaredd, felly, yn troi i mewn i rôl gymdeithasol.

Sonnir Stanley Cohen yn ei damcaniaeth o banig moesol ynglŷn â’r theori label, yn bennaf ymysg isddiwylliannau. I ddechrau, bu’r cyhoedd yn cymryd sylw o’r gweithgaredd, ac esiampl o hyn yw’r Mods a Rockers y chwedegau. Fel canlyniad o hyn, bydder asiantaethau yn ymateb i’r gweithgaredd, megis y cyfryngau. Bydd y cyhoedd yn aml yn helaethu gwyredd i werthu papurau, sydd yn creu ganlyniadau gwael ar y gymdeithas. Bydd y gymdeithas yn gweld symbolau penodol fel eiconau o achoswyr trwbl. Yna, byddent yn gorliwio’r sefyllfa ac yn rhagweld mwy o drwbl, a chrëwyd panig moesol fel ymateb i’r gwyredd, sy’n ailddiffinio’r broblem. Hefyd, efallai bydd hyn yn achosi i’r heddlu i orymateb a thargedu grwpiau penodol o bobl, a bydd y theori label yn cylchdroi eto.

I grynhoi, mae’r theori labelu yn chwarae rôl hanfodol o fewn y gymdeithas, gan ystyried ei ddylanwad ar yr unigolyn. Gall y label effeithio person yn negyddol ac mewn ffordd cadarnhaol, sy’n hollol ddibynnol ar y sefyllfa, neu hyd yn oed os yw’r gweithred yn cael ei labelu gan y gymdeithas yn y lle cyntaf.

Assessment on the belief that social prejudice is the root of all inequality

Inequality exists in all societies, in some form or another, and Marxists support the idea that the root of all inequality is social class prejudice. This is based on the Marxist conflicting theory, and the fundamental belief is that the ‘Bourgeoisie’ (the ruling class) use the capitalist economy in order to exploit and oppress the ‘Proletariat’ (the working-class). Aristocrats enjoy their economic advantage and the power they have over their workers, and thus they treat them badly to ensure that the system stays as it is. They have influence on culture and on everyday life in communities because their control of the social infrastructure influences the social superstructure, such as the media, the schooling system and social services. Contemporary evidence suggests that this has a level of truth because Rupert Murdoch has been condemned for influencing the media to favour the Conservative party for his own political and economic gains. It is the superstructure that is responsible for reinforcing inequality through primary and secondary socialisation, according to Marxists.

The working-class do not react to this because they are in a state of “fake awareness”, which means that they are ignorant of the realistic situation by being led to believe that society is a meritocracy. Althusser once stated that schools are “big machines that create myths”, and one belief is that society is meritocratic. The “ideological state apparatus”, meaning the social superstructure that controls ideas and beliefs, for instance the media, is what is what reinforces these states of misdirected understanding.

One area where there is evidence of social inequality is in education. According to the ‘Department of Education and Skills’, there is a link between social class and academic achievement. In 2005, for instance, 76% of children from professional backgrounds achieved to get five or more GCSE’s between A*-C, compared to about 32% of students from non-academic backgrounds. Despite the fact that each child’s grades have been gradually improving over the years, the gap continues to widen and the social class inequalities in academic achievement is more obvious than ever. These statistics reinforce the clear link between cultural/material capital and achievement in schools.

Bowles and Gintis are of the opinion that children, especially the ones from poorer backgrounds, learn obedience to the unfair system, and accept the fact that they are powerless. They argue that schools reinforce inequality through encouraging children to remain in their social classes, for instance, by openly assuming that poorer will end up in low-payed jobs, and in the same sense, expecting kids from richer backgrounds to achieve professional jobs, such as in business. In his study of “Lads and Ear’oles” in the 70s, the sociologist Paul Willis learnt of differing opinions and perspectives amongst male students from both social classes. He came to the conclusion that children from working class backgrounds tended to have a negative opinion of school and were much more likely to mess around in class. In the end, they tended to have far less school achievement than their richer counterparts, and were much more likely to accept working-class jobs and statuses.

Another area where there is evidence of social inequality is in the health sector. According to the ‘World Health Organisation’, men from the most deprived areas of Britain tended to have nine fewer years of life in comparison to men from the richest areas. There is seven years difference for the female equivalent between the richest and the poorest communities. The general assumption in science is that they usually have worse diets, because they have less money to spend on healthy food and usually have a worse understanding of nutrition. These factors can increase the likelihood of obesity, and other eating disorders. In some cases, this can lead to school bullying, which would mean that they were more distracted from their academic subjects. Complications of health can also lead to mental illnesses, such as depression, which often leads to the same conclusions as bullying. Wilkinson supports this crucial link by stating that there is a relationship that can be measured between poor health and yearly income. In the ‘General Home Inspection’ of 1999, 32% of working-class families had stated that they had at least one member suffering from chronic illnesses, in comparison to 12.5% of those from families who has professional careers. Not being able to afford prescriptions poses as a threat for the working class in securing good health. Though this is only applicable to England, as Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have free prescriptions. Some individuals are of the opinion that private healthcare offer better treatment (though this is entirely subjective), and if we hypothetically consider this to be true, this puts the poorer communities under a disadvantage because they do not have an equal access to top-quality health services like the richest communities.

Social injustices can explain fewer achievements amongst people from ethnic minorities in the education system and in society as a whole. There is an unfair percentage of ethnic minority prisoners who also experience material and cultural deprivation. About 49% of all prisoners are black (‘Prison Reform Trust’), and around 57% of Afro-Caribbean families are single parent, compared to about 23% of ethnically white families.  Generally, children from ethnic minority groups tend to underperform academically, and a larger proportion of them receive free school meals (‘FSM’). 38% of Pakistani children receive FSM, including %*% of Bangladeshis, 26% of Afro-Caribbean students and 41% of ethnically black African students. In the workplace, Afro-Caribbean people tend to experience the least amount of social mobility and have high unemployment rates. This may explain the crime rates – this is according to Merton’s ‘strain theory’, where people commit crime because of status frustration. Simple survival tactics would be another reason for many individuals turning towards crime. Therefore, people from ethnic minority groups tend to do worse in school because they are more likely to come from more disadvantaged backgrounds. They are more likely to turn towards crime for the same reasons.

Many Feminist Marxist are of the opinion that social inequality can also be heavily associated with gender inequality. They believe that women are portrayed to be inferior in the capitalist economy, and Margaret Benston develops this argument further by stating that the role of women in the capitalist system is to mainly do domestic chores for free and to nurture the workers of the futures, who will contribute to the economy themselves later on in life. To extend on this point, many believe that women are merely “second-hand workers”. The Second World War (1939-1945) would be shining evidence of this. It is where women took over the jobs of their husbands who went to war. Though it must be remembered that society on a whole has modernised since this period, so it would be relatively hard making legitimate comparisons between the two. Also, Feminist Marxists believe that women still face the “glass ceiling”, which stops most of them from reaching the top jobs. Also in economically tough times, it is easier to get rid of women than men. Thus, if we consider this approach, it is easy to see the link between gender and class inequality.

Max Weber agreed on the fundamentals of Marxism, though many of his ideas differ greatly from Karl Marx’s. He, along with many of his followers, agreed that society was split into four different categories: ‘the Privileged’ – the ones at the top of society, ‘the petti Bourgeoisie’ – the businessmen and the self-employed, ‘the White Collar workers – the lower middle-class, and ‘the Blue Collar workers – the non-professional workers. Weber gave consideration towards social class, but they also put emphasis on the individual’s status and power in the community. To Weber, each of these factors are different, but to Marx, each were synonymous. Status refers to a person’s social position and the respect society has for them, whereas power refers to the individual’s membership to the formal and informal sections of society.

Weber’s ideas allows us to understand more about ethnic and gender inequality that exists in society, and these exist for reasons that aren’t necessarily associated only with class inequality. Instead they are example of status inequality. It also explains that status and power are effectively in the hands of the most populous ethnic group, and in the UK, that means for ethnically white people. This means that it is much harder for people from ethnic minorities to compete. This is why people from ethnic minorities are often associated with low-wage jobs, sub-standard quality of living, and disadvantaged communities. Officially, 70% of Bangladeshi children live in poverty (‘’), compared to about 60% of Pakistanis, 30% of the Indian and Afro-Caribbean community and 20% of ethnically white people.  Weberian theorists argue that even when people from ethnic minority backgrounds do the same job as white people, they don’t receive the same status. This is because the former groups often face more prejudice and discrimination by white workers because they see non-white workers as threats to their jobs. In consequence to this, people from ethnic minority groups suffer from status inequality as well as class prejudice.

The ‘dual market theory’ (another Weberian concept by Barron and Norris) splits society into two different sects: the primary and secondary labour markets. The former includes full-time professional jobs that require a lot of skills and experience, including lawyers and doctors. They argue that white males are the most likely to fit into this group. The latter sector is quite the antonym to the former. This group includes jobs that don’t require a high level of skills and experiences, for instance shop keepers and cleaners. This is the job market that is most associated with students, and it also has an unfair proportion of women and ethnic minorities. There is often less social mobility, so therefore it’s harder to find any promotions that offer a higher pay and status.  Barron and Norris argue that despite men being employed in both sectors, the majority find work in the primary sector. There are many theories that attempt to explain this. Firstly, women are far more likely to work more for less money. They are also less likely to be committed to their jobs for familial and domestic circumstances, such as prioritising housework and caring for children. Women also tend to be less organised with their work. Therefore, Barron and Norris argue that status inequality is to blame.

Another Weberian approach is by Rex and Thompson, who argue that ethnic minorities often deal with more class and status inequality, and this is worsened by racism. In London alone, black people are 28 times more likely than white people to be ‘stopped and searched’ by police. The police are more likely to target ethnic minorities because of “canteen culture”, which is a term that was created by Reiner to refer to beliefs and prejudices within the police force). Alas, this leads to a wider spread of social exclusion and frustration amongst ethnic minorities. Rex and Thompson believe that subcultures, with an unfair proportion of black people, form as a result of social prejudice and injustice.

Weberian theorists believe that it is possible to associate gender inequality and status inequality. In reference to the gender pay gap, women generally earn 40% less than their male counterparts. This is most probably because there is a higher proportion of women working in the secondary labour market. Additionally, women are more likely to work in the public sector, such as carers and teachers, where the wages are considerably less than the private sector. Women also have a different status in the work environment. What ‘Boundless’ say is that women are far more likely to experience sexual harassment in the workplace. Therefore, we see that social inequality is not necessarily the root of all inequality, though undeniably is does have a role.

Many Feminists tend to disagree to an extent with Marxism. Radical Feminists mainly believe that society is a patriarchy that is split between men and women. They also believe that domestic abuse is a tool by the male population to oppress and control women, and that it reflects their societal power. Around 1.4 million women experience domestic abuse yearly (‘The Guardian’) – though the counterargument of that would be that more than 40% of domestic abuse victims are male (also ‘The Guardian’). Furthermore, domestic workloads tend to vary according to gender. Unemployed women spend on average 57 hours on domestic chores (Walker and Woods), and very recent research has uncovered that employed women also spend roughly the same amount as unemployed women spend. The majority of that time is spent looking after children. Ann Oakley, a renowned feminist, says ‘In only a small number of marriages is the husband notably domesticated… home and children are the woman’s primary responsibility.’ Therefore domestic work is very often considered a female role, rather than a male one.

Thus, as the Weberian concepts that have been addressed, vertical and horizontal discrimination exists, according to Feminists.

Vertical discrimination: the differences in status and income between men and women.

Horizontal discrimination: channelling people to take up jobs on the basis of their gender. An example of this is where a man would be encouraged to find a competitive career, yet often allows a higher income and higher opportunities of social mobility.

Therefore Feminists disagree with Marxist beliefs about social inequality and its root in society, especially as a catalyst for many other forms of discrimination.

Postmodernists also disagree with Marxists about discrimination. Waters, a popular Postmodernist, believes that the social classes are diminishing as a legitimate symbol of personality. Instead, how we, as individuals, spend our time and money and our ideas about society is central to our identities. No one is forced into a particular lifestyle (with exceptions) any longer because of the recent rise in living standards. The rise in the popularity of leisurely sports, like baseball, in the 1920’s US would be a classic example of this. And the idea that our culture has become freer as a result of raised living standards is undoubtedly plausible, yet it contrasts greatly to fundamental Marxism, Weberianism, Feminism, and to a lesser extent, Functionalists.

The Functionalist approach to discrimination is different to that of Postmodern and Marxist concepts as they argue that social stratification exists on purpose as it is beneficial to society, which is meritocratic. Social stratification is a ranking system that is based on moral judgments. This is grounded on: respect, supremacy, social distinctions, approval and disproval. The modern social strata reflects the normative consensus, and what society considers to be valuable. And therefore, as Davis and Moore suggest, the top jobs should, and are, given to the most intelligent and skilled workers because they are more of a use to society.

On a whole, many theories exist that attempt to explain social inequality and injustice. We have, on one hand, Marxist concepts who argue that social inequality and the struggle between the rich and the poor is the greatest example of discrimination to be seen, and other approaches see it as an issue that is a lot more intricate than the Marxists believe it to be. And the Functionalists see it not as a huge issue at all.

Gwerthusiad ar y safbwynt bod pob anghydraddoldeb yn anghydraddoldeb dosbarth

Mae nifer o anghydraddoldebau yn bodoli yn y gymdeithas. Mae’r Marcswyr yn cefnogi’r syniad bod gwraidd pob anghydraddoldeb yw anghydraddoldeb dosbarth. Mae hyn yn seiliedig ar y theori gwrthdaro, a chredon nhw fod y ‘Bourgeoisie’ (sef y dosbarth rheoli) yn defnyddio’r system gyfalafol i ecsploetio’r ‘Proletariat’ (y dosbarth gweithiol). Mae’r dosbarth rheoli yn mwynhau eu safle economaidd pwerus a’r rheolaeth sydd ganddynt dros y gweithwyr, felly maent yn eu gormesu nhw er mwyn sicrhau bod y sefyllfa yn parhau. Mae ganddynt ddylanwad ar ddiwylliant ac ar fywyd pob dydd oherwydd mae rheolaeth y dosbarth llywodraethol ar yr isadeiledd yw sail ei rheolaeth ar yr aradeiledd, megis y cyfryngau, ysgolion a gwasanaethau cyhoeddus. Yr aradeiledd sy’n gyfrifol dros atgyfnerthu’r anghydraddoldebau trwy gymdeithasoli cynradd ac eilradd, yn ôl y Marcswyr.

Nid yw’r dosbarth gweithiol yn ymateb i hyn oherwydd maent yn rhan o “ymwybyddiaeth ffug”. Hynny yw, maent yn ymwybodol o’r sefyllfa wirioneddol wrth feddwl bod y gymdeithas yn feritocrataidd. Dywedodd Althusser bod ysgolion yw “y peiriannau mawr sy’n creu mythau”, ac un o rheiny yw bod y gymdeithas yn feritocrataidd. Yr “offer ideolegol y wladwriaeth”, felly’r aradeiledd sy’n rheoli syniadau, er enghraifft y cyfryngau, yw’r peth sy’n creu’r gred hon.

Un maes lle mae yna dystiolaeth o anghydraddoldeb ar sail dosbarth yw ym maes addysg. Yn ôl yr Adran Addysg a Sgiliau, mae yna gysylltiad rhwng dosbarth cymdeithasol a chyrhaeddiad addysgol. Yn 2005, er enghraifft, llwyddodd 76% o blant o gefndiroedd proffesiynol uwch i gael 5 neu ragor TGAU A* i C, o’i gymharu â dim ond 32% o gefndiroedd gweithwyr cyffredin. Er gwaethaf y ffaith bod cyraeddiadau pob plentyn wedi gwella mae’r bwlch yn parhau i dyfu ac mae’r anghydraddoldebau dosbarth cymdeithasol hyn o ran cyrhaeddiad addysgol yn fwy amlwg nag erioed. Mae’r ystadegau hyn yn atgyfnerthu’r cysylltiad clir rhwng cyfalaf diwylliannol a chyrhaeddiad academaidd.

Yn ôl Bowles a Gintis, mae plant, yn bennaf y rhai o gefndiroedd tlawd, yn dysgu sut i ufuddhau i’r system annheg ac i dderbyn y ffaith eu bod yn ddi-rym. Honnir y mae ysgolion yn atgyfnerthu anghydraddoldeb trwy annog plant i aros yn eu dosbarthiadau cymdeithasol, megis annog plant dosbarth gweithiol i gael swydd gyffredin, ac yn yr un modd, annog plant o ddosbarth canol i gael swydd broffesiynol, megis ym musnes. Astudiodd Paul Willis yn ei astudiaeth “Lads ac Ear’oles” agweddau a chyfleoedd gwahanol ymysg dosbarthiadau cymdeithasol. Edrychodd Willis ar fechgyn ysgol uwchradd yn y 70au, gan gymryd sylw’n benodol ar fechgyn o ddosbarth gweithiol. Daeth i’r casgliad mae plant o gefndiroedd llai cyfoethog yn fwy tueddol o gael agweddau gwael am addysg ac yn fwy tebygol o chwarae cwmpas yn yr ystafell dosbarth. Yn y pendraw, bydd ganddynt llai o lwyddiannau addysgol ac yn fwy tueddol o dderbyn swyddi o statws isel. Maes arall lle mae tystiolaeth o anghydraddoldeb ar sail dosbarth yw ym maes iechyd. Yn ôl y ‘World Health Organisation’, mae dynion yn yr ardaloedd mwyaf difreintiedig yn dueddol o fyw tua naw blwyddyn yn llai na dynion yn yr ardaloedd mwyaf gyfoethog. Yn yr un modd, mae gan fenywod yn yr ardaloedd tlotaf disgwyliad oes o tua 7 mlynedd yn llai na menywod yn yr ardaloedd mwyaf cyfoethog.

Mae’r dosbarth gweithiol yn fwy tebygol o gael ymborth gwael, a gall hyn arwain at ordewdra, neu unrhyw anhwylderau bwyta eraill. Mewn rhai sefyllfaoedd, gall hyn arwain at fwlio yn yr ysgol, ac felly byddent yn cymryd llai o sylw tuag at eu pynciau academaidd. Problemau iechyd hefyd yn gallu gwaethygu iselder, ac mae hyn yn arwain at yr un casgliadau. Mae Wilkinson yn cefnogi’r cysylltiad hyn trwy honni bod perthynas sy’n gallu cael ei mesur rhwng iechyd gwael ac incwm. Yn ôl yr Arolwg Cartrefi Cyffredinol 1999, mae 32% o aelodau’r cartrefi heb waith yn dweud bod afiechydon cronig arnyn nhw, gan gymharu â 12.5% o’r rhai mewn cartrefi â gwaith. Mae pobl dosbarth gweithiol efallai’n methu fforddio presgripsiynau i sicrhau iechyd da. Y rwyf yn ystyried y ffaith bod hon yn berthnasol i Loegr yn unig. Mae gan Gymru, Iwerddon ac yr Alban cyfreithiau gwahanol. Mae rhai o’r farn mai iechyd preifat yn cynnig triniaeth well, ac os yr ydym yn ystyried hyn, mae hyn yn rhoi pobl dosbarth gweithiol anfantais oherwydd nid oes ganddynt yr un mynediad at iechyd fel y dosbarthiadau cymdeithasol mwy cyfoethog.

Yn ôl adroddiad gan ‘King’s Fund ThinkTank’, mae’r rhai sydd heb/llai o gymwysterau (sy’n fwy tueddol o ddod o’r dosbarth gweithiol) yn fwy tebygol o ysmygu, yfed a chael problemau iechyd. Mae modd dadlau bod hyn oherwydd mae gan y dosbarth gweithiol llai o arian i fedru fforddio prynu bwydydd iachus, ac yn lle yn gorfod prynu bwydydd sy’n llawn siwgr. Yn ogystal mae ganddynt llai o fynediad at wybodaeth a dealltwriaeth am fwydydd afiachus, felly mae diffyg ymwybyddiaeth yn gallu chwarae rhan enfawr ynddo fe.

Gall anghydraddoldebau dosbarth esbonio diffyg cyrhaeddiad nifer o leiafrifoedd ethnig o fewn y system addysg a’r gymdeithas ehangach. Mae canran anghyfartal o garcharwyr o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig ac mae nifer ohonynt hefyd yn dioddef o amddifadedd materol a diwylliannol. Mae tua 49% o’r holl garcharwyr gydag ethnigrwydd croenddu (yn ôl ‘Prison Reform Trust’), ac mae 57% o deuluoedd Affro-Caribi yn un rhiant, gan gymharu gyda 23% o bobl wen. Yn gyffredinol, mae plant o grwpiau lleiafrifol ethnig yn dueddol o wneud yn waeth yn yr ysgol, ac mae nifer fawr ohonynt yn derbyn prydau ysgol am ddim (PYADd). Mae 38% o blant Pacistani yn derbyn PYADd, a 58% o blant Bangladeshi, 26% o fyfyrwyr Affro-Caribi, a 41% o ddisgyblion Affricanaidd ddu. Yn y byd gwaith, gwelir mai y pobl Affro-Carribi sy’n profi’r cyn lleied o symudiad cymdeithasol ac sydd fel arfer yn ddi-waith. Gall hyn esbonio’r lefelau trosedd (yn ôl y theori straen Merton, lle mae pobl yn troseddu oherwydd rhwystredigaeth statws), a hefyd maent yn cael eu gorfodi i droi at drosedd er mwyn goroesi. Felly, mae lleiafrifoedd ethnig yn gwneud yn waeth yn yr ysgol oherwydd eu bod yn fwy tebygol o ddod o’r dosbarth gweithiol. Hefyd maent yn fwy tebygol o droi at drosedd am yr un rhesymau.

Mae’r Ffeministiaid Marcsaidd, gall anghydraddoldeb dosbarth hefyd bod yn gysylltiedig ag anghydraddoldebau rhywedd. Credon nhw fod menywod yn israddol o fewn y system gyfalafol, ac yn ôl  Margaret Benston, rôl menywod o fewn y system gyfalafol yw gwneud gwaith llafur domestig am ddim a magu’r gweithwyr y dyfodol. I fynd ymhellach, mae nifer yn credu bod rôl menywod yn y byd gwaith yw bod y “gweithwyr llafur wrth gefn”. Roedd yr Ail Ryfel Byd (rhwng 1939-1945) yn dystiolaeth dda o hyn oherwydd cymerodd menywod swyddi’r dynion tra eu bod nhw’n brwydro yn y rhyfel. Ond er hyn, gellir dadlau bod y gymdeithas wedi datblygu a moderneiddio ers y pryd hynny, ac felly mae’n anodd iawn i gymharu’r ddwy sefyllfa. Yn ogystal, yn ôl Ffeministiaid Marcsaidd, mae menywod yn wynebu’r “nenfwd gwydr”, sydd yn eu hatal rhag cyrraedd y swyddi top, ac mewn cyfnodau economaidd gwael, mae’n haws cael gwared ar fenywod na ddynion. Felly mae modd gweld y cysylltiad clir rhwng anghydraddoldeb rhywedd ac anghydraddoldeb dosbarth.

Mae syniadau Weberaidd (sef credoau sy’n seiliedig ar ymchwil Max Weber) yn cytuno i raddau gyda syniadau Marcsaidd, ond yn anghytuno yn gyffredinol. Credon nhw fod pedwar dosbarth cymdeithasol: ‘y Breintiedig’ – y rhai ar dop y gymdeithas, ‘y Peti Bourgeoisie’ – y rheolwyr a gweithwyr hunangyflogedig, ‘y gweithwyr Coler Wen’ – y dosbarth canol is ac  ‘y gweithwyr Llaw” – y dosbarth gweithiol. Rhoddon nhw ystyriaeth ar ddosbarth cymdeithasol, ond hefyd maent yn pwysleisio statws a phlaid hefyd. I Weber, mae pob ffactor yn ar wahân, ac i Marx, gyfystyr yw dosbarth cymdeithasol, statws a phlaid. Mae statws yn cyfeirio at safle a pharch sydd gan unigolyn yn y gymdeithas, ac mae plaid yn golygu aelodaeth yr unigolyn at y gymdeithas ffurfiol ac anffurfiol.

Mae syniadau Weberaidd yn galluogi ni i ddeall mwy am yr anghydraddoldebau ethnig a rhywedd sydd o fewn y gymdeithas a bod y rhain yn bodoli am resymau nad sy’n gysylltiedig ag anghydraddoldebau dosbarth yn unig, ond yn lle maent yn enghreifftiau o anghydraddoldebau statws.

Mae damcaniaethau Weberaidd yn esbonio bod pŵer a statws yn nwylo’r grŵp ethnig mwyaf, ac felly’, mae’n anodd i bobl o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig i gystadlu. Dyma’r rheswm pam mae’r mwyafrif o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig yn cael eu cysylltu â chyflog isel, amodau byw isel ac ardaloedd difreintiedig. Mae 70% o blant ag ethnigrwydd Bangladeshi yn dlawd yn swyddogol (‘’), 60% i bobl o Bacistan, 50% i Affricanwyr Du, 30% o bobl o India ac Affro-Caribi a 20% o bobl wen. Hyd yn oed pan mae pobl o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig yn gwneud yr un swyddi â phobl wen, nid ydynt yn derbyn yr un statws â hwy. Mae hyn oherwydd eu bod yn wynebu rhagfarn a gwahaniaethu gan weithwyr gwyn am eu bod yn gweld lleiafrifoedd ethnig fel bygythiad i’w swyddi. Yn sgil hyn, mae lleiafrifoedd ethnig yn dioddef o anghydraddoldeb statws yn ogystal ag anghydraddoldeb dosbarth.

Mae’r ‘theori Farchnad Llafur Deuol’  (syniad Weberaidd gan Barron a Norris) yn rhannu i ddwy sect wahanol: y Farchnad Llafur Cynradd ac Eilradd. Y naill yn cynnwys swyddi sefydlog a broffesiynol, megis cyfreithwyr a doctoriaid. Mae angen i chi cael y sgiliau a phrofion cywir er mwyn derbyn y swyddi yma a gwelir mai mwyafrif o weithwyr y Farchnad Llafur Cynradd yw dynion wen. Y llall, ar y llaw arall, yn wrthwyneb i Gynradd. Mae’n cynnwys swyddi lle nad oes angen sgiliau penodol ac mae’r gwaith yn fwy galwedigaethol. Esiamplau o hyn yw gweithwyr siop neu weithwyr y ffatri. Nid oes llawer o symudoledd cymdeithasol o fewn y swyddi yma ac mae canran anghyfartal o weithwyr yn naill ai benywaidd, neu’n dod o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig. Yn ôl Barron a Norris, er bod dynion yn cael eu cyflogi yn y ddau sector, mae mwyafrif ohonynt yn y Farchnad Llafur Cynradd, ac mae menywod yn y sector arall. Mae llawer o esboniadau am hyn sy’n cefnogi ei gilydd: mae menywod yn fwy tebygol o weithio’n fwy am lai o arian; menywod yn llai tebygol o ymrwymo eu hunain i swyddi, oherwydd er enghraifft maent yn magu plant neu wedi priodi; maent yn fwy tebygol o fod yn llai trefnus. Felly, dadleuir gan Barron a Norris bod anghydraddoldeb statws sydd ar fai.

Dynesiad arall Weberaidd yw Rex a Thompson, pwy sy’n dweud bod lleiafrifoedd ethnig yn dioddef o anghydraddoldebau dosbarth a statws a bod hyn yn arwain at dlodi sy’n cael ei gwaethygu gan hiliaeth. Yn Llundain yn unig, mae person croenddu yn 28 waith yn fwy tebygol o gael ei ‘stopio ac archwilio’ gan yr heddlu na phobl wen. Yn ogystal, mae’r heddlu yn targedu pobl du oherwydd “canteen culture” (term a chrëir gan Reiner i gyfeirio at gredoau a rhagfarnau hiliol a rhywiaethol yn bodoli yn y system heddlu). Mae hyn yn arwain at ymlediad pellach o ynysiaeth a rhwystredigaeth ymysg pobl du. Credon nhw fod yr is-ddosbarth du yn datblygu gan bobl sy’n dioddef ynysiaeth a rhwystredigaeth o fewn y gymdeithas.

Yn ôl credoau Weberaidd, mae modd cysylltu anghydraddoldebau gender ac anghydraddoldebau statws. O ran gwahaniaethau o ran tâl, ar gyfartaledd mae menywod yn ennill 40% llai na dynion. Gall hyn fod oherwydd mae menywod yn dueddol o weithio yn y Farchnad Llafur Eilradd. Yn ogystal mae menywod yn tueddu gweithio yn y sector cyhoeddus, megis fel athrawon, lle mae’r tâl yn sylweddol yn is na thâl yn y sector preifat, er enghraifft ym myd busnes. Yn ogystal mae gan fenywod statws gwahanol o fewn y byd gwaith. Yn ôl ‘Boundless’, mae menywod yn llawer mwy tebygol o brofi aflonyddiad rhywiol o fewn y gweithle. Trwy hyn, gwelwn nad gwraidd pob anghydraddoldeb yw anghydraddoldeb dosbarth yn ôl credoau Weberaidd, ond mae’n chwarae rhan ynddo fe.

Mae Ffeministiaid yn dueddol o anghytuno gyda syniadau Marcsaidd. Cred y Ffeministwyr Radical yw bod y gymdeithas yn batriarchaidd ac yn cael ei rhannu i ddau: rhwng dynion a menywod. Credon nhw bod trais domestig yn adlewyrchu pŵer dynion. Mae tua 1.4 miliwn o fenywod yn flynyddol yn dioddef o drais domestig (‘y Guardian’). Yn ogystal mae rhaniad gwaith llafur domestig yn hollol ddibynnol ar eich rhywedd. Mae menywod di-swydd yn dueddol o dreulio tua 57 awr ar dasgau domestig (Walker a Woods), ac mae astudiaethau mwy cyfoes wedi darganfod bod menywod sydd gan swyddi llawn amser yn gwneud tua’r unfaint hefyd. Mae’r mwyafrif o’r amser hynny yn cael eu treulio ar edrych ar ôl blant. Yn ôl Ann Oakley, ‘In only a small number of marriages is the husband notably domesticated… home and children are the woman’s primary responsibility.’ Felly ystyrir gwaith domestig ac edrych ar ôl plant fel rôl fenywaidd yn lle gwrywaidd. Felly, fel y mae cysyniadau Weberaidd yn ymdrin â, mae gwahaniaethu fertigol a llorweddol yn bodoli, yn ôl barn Ffeministaidd. Mae’r cyntaf yn cyfeirio at statws a thâl gwahanol rhwng dynion a menywod, ac mae’r llall yn golygu swyddi gwahanol sy’n cael eu sianeli yn ôl rhywedd, megis mae dynion yn cael eu hannog i weithio tuag at swyddi sy’n fwy cystadleuol a ble mae mwy o symudoledd cymdeithasol. Felly bydd Ffeministwyr yn anghytuno gyda syniadau Marcsaidd ynglŷn ag anghydraddoldebau dosbarth fel gwraidd pob anghydraddoldeb.

Mae’r Ôl-fodernwyr hefyd yn anghytuno gyda Marcswyr ynglŷn ag anghydraddoldebau. Mae Waters yn credu bod dosbarthiadau yn dirywio fel arwydd o hunaniaeth. Yn lle, mae sut yr ydym yn treulio ein hamser, arian ac ein credoau yn ganolig i ein hunaniaethau. Nid oes neb yn cael eu gorfodi bellach oherwydd y cynnydd mewn safonau byw. Mae gan bobl mwy o arian a mwy o amser rhydd er mwyn ymlacio. Mae’r cynnydd mewn gweithgareddau hamddenol yn dystiolaeth o hyn, lle ddatblygwyd y rheiny, megis pêl fas yn yr Unol Daliaethau America yn ystod y 20au. Felly mae pobl yn wynebu mwy o ddewis ynglŷn â’u ffordd o fyw yn hytrach na chael eu gorfodi i mewn i ddiwylliant penodol. Felly mae gan Farcswyr ac Ôl-fodernwyr credoau gwahanol am anghydraddoldebau cymdeithasol.

Mae credoau Swyddogaethol ynglŷn ag anghydraddoldeb yn wahanol o i Ôl-fodernwyr a Marcswyr gan eu bod yn dadlau bod haenau cymdeithasol yn bodoli ar bwrpas er mwyn bod yn fuddiol i gymdeithas sydd yn feritocrataidd. Mae haenau cymdeithasol yn system rancio sy’n seiliedig ar werthusiad moesol. Mae hyn yn ei sylfaenu ar: parch; fawreddogrwydd; anrhydedd cymdeithasol; cymeradwyaeth ac anghymeradwyaeth. Mae haenau cymdeithasegol modern yn gwrthrychu consensws normadol am beth mae’r gymdeithas yn gweld yn werthfawr, ac felly, yn ôl Davis a Moore, caiff pobl fwyaf galluog a doniog eu gosod yn y swyddi mwyaf pwysig oherwydd maent yn fwy o fudd i’r gymdeithas.

Ar y cyfan, mae llawer iawn o ddamcaniaethau am anghydraddoldebau cymdeithasol. Ar un llaw, mae gennych chi gysyniadau Marcsaidd, sydd o’r farn mae dosbarthiadau cymdeithasol yw’r gweithredwyr o’r holl anghydraddoldebau cymdeithasol, lle mae cysyniadau Weberaidd, Ffeministaidd, Swyddogaethol ac Ôl-fodernaidd yn gwrthddweud y Marcswyr.

Agencies of social control

The term socialisation is a common term used by sociologists, psychologists, educationalists, anthropologists and political scientist to describe the lifelong process of learning values, norms and customs of a particular society. It provides individuals with skills and understanding that is necessary for conformity and survival.

There are five main groups that are responsible for the process of socialisation, which I will separately discuss in greater depth.

The family

The family is an example of primary socialisation, it is the earliest stage of a person’s learning about culture, for instance, how to eat with a knife and fork.

(Fact: culture is socially constructed – thus it varies from country to country. Example: Chinese culture teaches that it’s a norm to eat with chopsticks, whereas in Western countries (like the UK), children are taught to eat with a knife and fork.)

Through contact with family members, carers and other children (most likely to be siblings), the child learns basic norms and values of society. Also, what children learn varies according to social class, religion, ethnicity, and even the area in which they live. The family uses sanctions to encourage/discourage a child’s behaviour. For example, praise is given to children who say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, whereas bad behaviour is treated with negative sanctions, such as depriving children from what they enjoy, or being put on the ‘naughty step’.

Marxist theory: the family socialises children to comply with the unjust Bourgeoisie/Proletariat class system, commonly known as the ruling and working class. So whilst more affluent families educate their children to accept power and authority, the poorer families teach theirs to accept their role in the inferior class.

Feminist Theory: many feminists argue that the family reinforces gender roles through sanctions. They believe that parents are stricter with girls, which teaches them to be more obedient, while boys’ misbehaviours are largely ignored, brushing it off with language like ‘boys will be boys’. The feminist Ann Oakley points out that gender roles are introduced at an early age through dress code and toys. For instance, the girl is encouraged to wear pink and play with dolls and toy kitchens, whereas the boys are encouraged the wear blue and play with toy cars and action figures.


School is an agent of secondary socialisation which teaches pupils the norms and values of society in a formal and informal setting.

(Formal – meaning ‘proper’, or official. In context with this subject, formal education means curriculum-based subjects, which includes geography, Welsh, maths, etc.)

(Informal – meaning ‘improper’, or unofficial. Again, in context with this subject, informal education includes the ‘hidden curriculum’ –a student subconsciously picks up of the way a teacher may act or dress, which influences them to act in a certain way).

Pupils are sanctioned by using formal and informal social control. Formal social control is generally written through school rules, and when they are broken, official sanctions are applied, i.e. expulsion, detention. If a pupil is especially noted for good behaviour or achievements, official sanctions, in this case, could possibly consist of special privileges, praise assemblies etc.

Informal social control is essentially sanctioning, but with fewer, if any, consequences. For example, a pupil is taught that speaking in class is wrong through a verbal warning by a teacher. In the same way, good behaviour is encouraged by a nod of approval from a teacher.

Generally speaking, it is argued that formal social control has a bigger impact on the pupil’s education, yet informal social control still plays an essential part in influencing the pupil into a particular lifestyle and culture.

Lastly, school educates people on an intellectual level, in contrast to the family, who teaches it on an emotional level.

Peer groups

Peer groups consists of members with similar backgrounds or attributes. They tend to live in the same area and attend the same schools, which proves that peer groups can play a fundamental role on socialisation because they usually spend a great deal of time together.

The most obvious and well-known associated term would be ‘peer pressure’, meaning the the individual is under pressure to look and act in a certain way in order to be socially accepted by their peers. Rejection as a sanction is usually enforced when that member fails to conform to peer pressure.

Evans and Chandler once stated that peer pressure influences children to want the latest items, like Iphones and other expensive gadgets.

Often, peer groups can form subcultures that have norms and values that differ from mainstream society. Paul Willis’s study of working-class boys from London showed that they tended to form a ‘Lad-culture’ that rejected the ‘unfair’ class system and created alternative coping strategies to deal with educational failure, for instance, misbehaviour in class. So essentially, a person’s self-esteem, background or ideologies can influence which peer group they are attracted to, whether they have a negative or positive effect on that individual.

The workplace

Paid employment is a term that will play a significant role in nearly every person’s lives in our society. When a worker is new to a particular job, he/she must learn to conform to its norms, values and rules, or face (in)formal sanctions. This process is called re-socialisation.

Mass media

The mass media is a very prominent agency within society. Ranging from music, the internet, television, radio, magazines, newspapers and film, it allows mass communication and globalisation from all corners of the earth. As a result of the mass media being so large, it can influence and socialise people in more ways than any other social agency.

The mass media tends to focus on the distribution of role models that can have a positive and negative effect on the way males and females think and act. Bad role models, such as Kim Kardashian, can teach girls and boys to favour their looks and to destroy their self-esteem when they compare their lives to the (unrealistic) ones of the celebrities they admire.

The mass media also teaches social norms. For instance, the media tends to condemn murderers, which subconsciously teaches that it’s wrong and undesirable to copy it. Then again, especially with the popularity with gaming, games like GTA can potentially influence people to act in a negative way. For instance, the Norwegian serial killer, Anders Breivik, was allegedly playing hours and hours of violent video games before committing his atrocious crimes. On the other hand, some dispute that video gaming was no catalyst for his actions. Anders Breivik is rightfully demonised by the media, which reinforces the point that the mass media can influence one’s moral values.